I had an unusual walk on the mean streets yesterday.
Well, I wasn't actually on the mean streets much, I spent most of my five miles in some nearby neighborhoods.
I had some of my typical experiences; I found four pennies and another pair of flattened eyeglasses, and I saw a couple of things I wondered about.
For instance, how does a cleaning sponge wind up on the side of a major thoroughfare...
...and what is the story behind these broken crayons that were laying in the side street?
Why did they make me feel kind of sad?
When I found a nickel on the street yesterday, I had to wonder again why I find quarters and nickels very rarely, but find pennies and/or dimes nearly every time I walk.
There were some typical happy moments, too; as when I once again passed the names and dates which my neighbors - who are not kids - etched into our freshly repaired street last winter.
I like to think of the two of them deciding to leave their mark in the street and I always wonder if they did it openly or furtively.
Maybe it is more fun to imagine than to know.
I also took some action on a thought I have had many times when passing a lovingly landscaped yard.
I took photographs of anything that inspired or blessed me and am having some prints made to turn into postcards.
Maybe those strangers will enjoy getting a note letting them know the fruits of their labors are being appreciated by others.
But, Diary, what happened that made the walk unusual is kind of hard to tell you about.
You know my rule about kicking home any balls or round objects I find in the street when I'm close to home; just something I do to act like a kid again.
You also know that the ball has to be rated at least 3F : it has to be flattened, forsaken, filthy, forlorn, and/or forgotten (I wouldn't want to break any child's heart).
Unfortunately - or not, depending upon how you look at it - I found a 4F ball yesterday when I was a full two miles from home.
I don't know what got into me.
I thought, "What the heck. I'll just kick this baby all the way home."
Gosh, Diary, I felt really awkward when I was on the busier streets and old Flatty would lopsidedly meander into the middle of the road and all those nice drivers would slow down or stop to let the crazy old lady get her play toy.
Then something worse - or not, depending on your perspective - happened: I found another 3F.
It was a tennis ball, whose photo I didn't capture, because by now Flatty was behaving like a toddler, going this way and that no matter how I tried to direct him.
Well, I added Tennie to the family and let me tell you, Flatty and he never went in the same direction even once.
I was swerving all over the road and leaving my dignity behind me in bits and pieces.
After a mile or so - free, now, of all pride - I knew myself to be completely dedicated to seeing these two safely home, and I found myself going further and further out of my way to keep them rounded up.
As we all got tired, we took smaller and smaller steps, Flatty and Tennie started keeping together more and more, and we all seemed to be getting along better and better.
I was worried as we approached the main thoroughfare.
How was I going to get us all safely across without breaking the No Hands rule?
I silently formulated a plan to send Tennie across first: he was younger and had more bounce left in him, so I reasonably figured that he could make it onto the easement on the opposite side and wait there for Flatty and I to follow.
He didn't make it.
He got about three quarters of the way across and just stopped.
I watched with horror as he was hit by a car and dragged a good ten yards up the road.
Flatty and I crossed safely, if not altogether gracefully, a few moments later.
It took me some time to get Tennie out of the street then, and he was badly hurt; his fur coat hanging in shreds from every part of him.
As we were now so close to our own street, and home, I urged them both on and we rounded the corner onto our block.
Flatty must have been a little shook up, because he rounded the corner and went all the way to the far side of our street.
Tennie, mortally wounded and feeling he couldn't go on, rounded the corner, saw his chance to escape his misery, and offed himself; slipping quietly through the grate into the storm sewer.
I was stunned and unable to move for a moment.
When I pulled myself together, I crossed the street to Flatty and the two of us silently made our way home; moving very slowly now, exhausted and sorrowful.
Today Flatty lives with the other Round Objects I've Kicked Home in the drawer of the wicker plant stand on the front porch.
Unlike the others, I doubt he will be played with and enjoyed by the grandshoots; he's too obviously flawed for them.
He has a special place in my heart, though.
He lived a whole life inside my head on the mean streets of Oklahoma City.
And so did Tennie.
God rest his soul.